Red Hot Easter – Paul Gartside, Simon Collins and Andy Whymark November 10, 2010
This was and is hopefully the first of many trips to France and to Etang Du Vivier. The goal being to catch a 40 for my 40th birthday along with the slim hope of a big cat.
Simon, Andy and I had all been fishing for a few years together and had had our share of 20’s and blanks, for our first trip to France we wanted to find a big fish runs lake and if the blogs were to be believed this was the lake we needed to visit.
After 12hrs traveling we arrived at Ian the owners house who gave us a very warm welcome and a tour of the lake. Ian takes a personal interest in his guests and is very keen to offer advice. I will say now that you would do well to listen, on his advice I baited a small bed under a known spot and 3 hours after I had setup my bivvy I had my first 30 and a new PB.
I had set up camp at the ‘Tin Hut’ swim at the far end of the lake with my two friends at the other end in the double platform swim (Tim’s Swim)
Sunday & Monday proved to be quiet days for me with only a couple of runs resulting in a further 30 and a 27, Andy and Simons rods were screaming every couple of hours at the other end of the lake so I used the time to spod out a large bed of bait off to the right of the swim in case I needed to move up the lake if things didn’t heat up. By Tuesday night I had a new PB of 34lb again to the spot that Ian had first pointed out, My new baited bed off to the right had also produced it’s first twenty in the morning but then nothing all day, That night I resolved to move a couple of swims closer to Andy and Simon as their action hadn’t slowed and were now about 100lb’s of fish each in front of me.
I moved up to the ‘Reggies point’ swim which is centre to the lake, this meant I could still cast to the baited bed I had put down on the Monday and cast to the right to share the edge of a large bed that had been producing well for Simon. This way the three of us had a pretty much uninterrupted baited strip covering half the length of the lake.
Wednesday was fairly quiet during the day with 3 fish early on and nothing from the baited area after 11am, Simon and Andy meanwhile were doing well with Simon landing a superb 45lb 15oz Mirror beating Andy’s newly acquired PB of 37lb.
At 7.15pm I started to get a slow beep beep from my left hand rod on the Bed of bait from Monday, I picked up the rod and lifted into the fish… Odd! I’ve hooked a tree branch… and then the branch started to move slowly, Raised the rod tip and wound down to pump the rod for the first time at which point the fish took off bending the tip right round and stripping line off of the reel. At this point I guessed I was into one of the lakes big cats. I’ve caught big sea fish before and this felt just like them but never on 18lb mainline and a size 6 hook and as the cat kited across the lake I shouted to Andy and Simon for a hand getting my other rods in. Due to the light tackle I wasn’t going to be able to bully this fish, it was only going to come in when it got tired. The clutch was set fairly light allowing the cat to take line but work for it in the process, pumping the rod wasn’t going to work without tightening the clutch so I opted to ‘walk’ the fish back and then walk forward and wind. This worked and I was soon gaining line, after about 20 minutes we had the fish rise a short way out from the swim, wow, this thing was 6 feet long. After a spirited couple more sprints off the cat was beaten and we managed to get him landed. The fight had lasted over 30 minutes and both fisherman and fish were exhausted. The cat weighed in at 87lb and was without a doubt the highlight of my entire week. We got the cat back in the sling and lowered it back into the water. This was my first cat and I wanted to make sure it went back safe and well, I decided to strip off and get in the lake to support it. In the end it took a good 10 minutes before the cat was ready for the off and then with one solid slap to my legs he swam off.
Elated, slimy, cold and tired, I got showered at the caravan, had a beer and decided not to put my rods out for the night and get some kip instead.
Simon and Andy had a busy night by all accounts but I was out cold to the world dreaming of big cats.
The next morning I sorted out the mess from the night before replacing everything from the leadcore down on the rod that got the cat in case it had been weakened, just as well as the hook link looked as though someone had been at it with sandpaper. Re-spodded all of the beds and recast. Ian showed up at 9am and within 2 hours I had 2 more 20’s and a 30 to the bed that produced the cat, my arms were still aching from the night before and it was good of Ian to net the fish and play photographer.
At 7.45pm my left had rod gave a slow beep beep beep just like it had done exactly 24hrs before I lifted into the fish and immediately it kited to the right at speed and with a lot of torque, I was into another big cat. After a very similar but shorter fight at only 20 minutes and again with the help of Simon and Andy I had a 72lb cat, fantastic I thought, this means last night wasn’t a fluke not to get a snap off, it really is moments like this that give you confidence in your rigs & knots.
Friday morning again produced good numbers of fish with Andy getting another 30 and me landing my first 40 at 40lb and 3oz.
To sum it up, we all had PB’s, our first 30’s and 40’s and the big cats just made this trip the stuff of dreams. Ian was an excellent host, I’m going to be back there at the first opportunity I get.
A BIT FROM SIMON
Without repeating Paul’s concise account of our first trip to France I’d just like to add a bit from my experience. WOW! We arrived at Ian’s at around mid day and he came straight out to greet us and offer a cuppa. Introductions done it was straight down to the lake for a guided tour. There was only three of us on the lake that week so we had the pick of the swim’s, though Ian suggested a double and a single and we went with his advice, good decision.
As Paul has already said, the action started for me and Andy within the first hour and never stopped for the entire trip.
Strangely I had very little action during the nights but was awoken every morning at about 6am by a screaming run and landed a carp of 25lb or over. I was not bored during the night though as Andy was getting at least 2 runs.
Wednesday was the highlight for me, We had had a bit or a rain storm and I decided to use the time to bring my rods in and have a quick shower and a change of clothes. The rain stopped and the rods went back out. About half an hour later the buzzers screamed into life and I struck into a big fish. We had all had a few thirties by now and I knew this was at the upper end of these. About 15 minutes later the net was slipped under a fish and Andy and I knew I’d just landed the first forty of the trip. Well, clean me and Clean clothes gone for a burton a 45lb 15oz carp was weighed, photographed and slipped back. I’m sure with a little drying of the weigh sling we could have got it to 46lb.
No more forties for me for the rest of the trip but many more fish from high twenties to mid thirties, the action just did not stop.
Would I like to go again??? I don’t think I need to answer that!
54 carp including 29 x twenties, 14 x thirties, 2 x forties, 87lb & 72lb cats